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MEETINGS STAR 2022/2023

A decade ago, at Toleranca Marketing agency, we developed a system of evaluating congress destinations with the help of an original matrix dubbed the “MEETING EXPERIENCE INDEX” or simply MTLG – MEETOLOGUE. Since the inception of evaluating destinations, we have been diligently using the reference system to present a realistic offer of congress destinations through time. Up to now, 125 destinations have been evaluated, including every important congress destination of the South East and New Europe region.

The system is a systematic, structured and analytical process, encompassing numerous factors labelled as important by event organisers. We dare say that our evaluation is the most comprehensive and complex destination grading system. The evaluation is not based solely on the number of congress events taking place at a destination but also delves into analysis holistically.

WHAT IS NEW EUROPE?

The answer to this question is something of an unsolved conundrum. A clear definition of New Europe doesn’t exist, the most general definition being that these are the countries of Eastern Europe that were once behind the Iron Curtain. Technically, this means 24 countries of Eastern Europe, adding Greece and Turkey to them. In our Editorial, we include the fresh, energetic and lesser-known European destinations in New Europe.

BEST IN EX-YU

1. LJUBLJANA 4.50

2. ZAGREB 4.49

3. DUBROVNIK 4.35

4. BELGRADE 4.31

5. SPLIT 4.22

6. PORTOROSE 4.17

7. OPATIJA 4.13

8. NOVI SAD 4.11

8. BLED 4.11

9. ROVINJ 4.07

10. BOHINJ 4.06

1. LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA 4.50/5


According to its conference and accommodation infrastructure, Ljubljana belongs to the group of capitals suitable for medium-sized and smaller meetings (up to 2.000 participants). It is positioned side by side with the new EU member states and geographically in the region of the Western Balkans. With two top-level convention centres and a very well-developed hotel meetings offer, Ljubljana is the region’s leading congress destination. The city is extremely safe and one of the region’s most sustainably oriented.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,715
The number of 4* and 5* hotels25
Destination population279,756
Banquet hall maximum capacity1,200
The largest hall in the city2,456 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity2,200
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events10
Average internet speed when organising an event56 Mbps
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velo_city_ljubljana
Photo Credit: Velo-city 2022

2. ZAGREB, CROATIA  4.49/5


A great congress future awaits Zagreb. It is well established in the international congress market and in addition to Ljubljana and Belgrade, it represents the future backbone of the continental meetings industry of the region. All three cities are progressing steadily on the charts of developed meeting destinations; the final breakthrough of the entire region is intertwined and dependent on the marketing of major regional congress cities in the international market.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms3,393
The number of 4* and 5* hotels35
Destination population809,268
Banquet hall maximum capacity1,600
The largest hall in the city5,000 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity2,200
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events15
Average internet speed when organising an event22 Mbps
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zagreb_croatia
Photo Credit: Meet In Zagreb

3. DUBROVNIK, CROATIA 4.35/5


Dubrovnik is the flagship of regional tourism and is commonly the first association of meeting organisers we meet daily. It is the closest in the region to renowned Mediterranean convention destinations Cannes and Monte Carlo. The modern and well-equipped centres at hotels such as Dubrovnik Palace, Excelsior, Bellevue, Grand Villa Argentina, Importanne Resort, Dubrovnik President, Valamar Lacroma and Radisson Blue are all great for hosting a variety of events. Well-developed is the entire conference infrastructure including destination management and the creative agency scene. The city is safe and one of the tourist icons of the Adriatic and justifiably the most painted tourist skyline with unprecedented experiential diversity for conference guests.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms4,006
The number of 4* and 5* hotels28
Destination population42,615
Banquet hall maximum capacity700
The largest hall in the city890 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,200
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events2
Average internet speed when organising an event20 Mbps
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Photo Credit: Getty Images

4. BELGRADE, SERBIA 4.31/5


Belgrade bases its congress story on the rich culture at the crossroads of East and West, the central position in South-East Europe and lively social life. It is a city with remarkable cuisine, world-class nightlife, world events and positive vibrations, which makes it a very dynamic and attractive tourist destination. Belgrade is a city on the rise and a rough congress diamond, which has enormous development potential. With the establishment of the Serbian Convention Bureau in 2007, cooperation and promotion have thoroughly improved and now Belgrade has in terms of managing a unique opportunity to take advantage of its benefits.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms4,158
The number of 4* and 5* hotels54
Destination population1,233,796
Banquet hall maximum capacity1,500
The largest hall in the city48,000 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity3,672
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event34 Mbps
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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

5. SPLIT, CROATIA 4.22/5


Among the Adriatic congress destinations Split has become serious competition to Dubrovnik in the last years. The main disadvantages of the destination are bad cooperation between the service providers, lack of air traffic connections to key markets and not enough destination marketing. If Split gets a real convention centre in the future, it could become one of the leading congress destinations in the Mediterranean. New and excellent hotel capacities, good road connections to Europe and wonderful surroundings, with islands offering numerous incentive programme opportunities, all bolster this proposition. Split is still one of the most unexploited congress destinations in the Mediterranean.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms3,651
The number of 4* and 5* hotels46
Destination population162,873
Banquet hall maximum capacity450
The largest hall in the city768 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity800
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events5
Average internet speed when organising an event21 Mbps
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Photo Credit: Canva/Pixabay

6. PORTOROSE, SLOVENIA  4.17/5


The historic laurels of the leading Adriatic congress destination are slowly starting to gather dust. Portorož is still in hard competition with Dubrovnik, Opatija and new Adriatic congress destinations that are developing all the time. A rich congress history, tradition and existing infrastructure are a competitive advantage. The meetings industry is by no means a tree to sleep under and simply harvest its fruit from wealthy congress participants. Despite that, Portorož has proven resilient and adaptable many times in the course of history, so some innovativeness and marketing opportunities should ensure it has a bright future.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,303
The number of 4* and 5* hotels21
Destination population17,500
Banquet hall maximum capacity300
The largest hall in the city1,085 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,100
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events3
Average internet speed when organising an event29 Mbps
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portorose_slovenia
Photo Credit: Slovenian Convention Bureau

7. OPATIJA, CROATIA  4.13/5


Opatija is without a doubt the ultimate meeting destination. Why? Because few destinations provide such a rich assortment of luxury accommodations in such a small area, whilst Opatija provides 33 hotels offering over 2700 rooms and more than 50 meeting and conference halls along the 3 km of the coastline. At the beginning and the end of the Opatija Riviera, there are two boutique hotels which contribute to the exclusivity of Opatija.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,256
The number of 4* and 5* hotels24
Destination population10,661
Banquet hall maximum capacity600
The largest hall in the city700 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity900
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events0
Average internet speed when organising an event20 Mbps
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opatija_croatia
Photo Credit: Opatija Tourist Board

8. NOVI SAD, SERBIA  4.11/5


Novi Sad is a city with two prestigious titles – European Capital of Culture 2021, European Youth Capital 2019 and Lonely Planet 3rd place on the list “Best in travel 2019”. Novi Sad maintains its image as an advanced capital also with festivals such as EXIT and many others. The question is why organise a congress in the city, which is only 100 km away from the capital city of Serbia? The answer is in a different, perhaps more authentic atmosphere and hospitality, numerous possibilities of accompanying programmes genuine ‘salaš’, in short in the authenticity of the congress story of Novi Sad. Novi Sad is open to new ideas and creative solutions, and at the same time flexible in offering new experiences.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms926
The number of 4* and 5* hotels15
Destination population362,675
Banquet hall maximum capacity1,600
The largest hall in the city5,970 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity4,000
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events5
Average internet speed when organising an event29 Mbps
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Photo Credit: Novi Sad Tourism Organisation

8. BLED, SLOVENIA  4.11/5


As a recognisable brand Bled stands out among other congress destinations in the region. It most closely resembles Dubrovnik, which caught up with the pre-war congress tempo by taking the right steps. Currently, the biggest disadvantage is the lack of a clear focus on quality rather than mass tourism. This is most clearly seen in the restaurant, nightlife and shopping offers. As a result, the current perception of quality is lower than with the largest competitors. In Bled the saying ‘Less is more’ is very true. The potential for the meetings industry is immense, it just needs to be harnessed in the right way.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms8,217
The number of 4* and 5* hotels12
Destination population7,894
Banquet hall maximum capacity400
The largest hall in the city1,668  m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity512
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event58 Mbps
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bled_slovenia
Photo Credit: Jošt Gantar

9. ROVINJ, CROATIA 4.07/5


If at the destination you have owners who have clear goals and who look at congress tourism strategically, then in a short time you can do a lot. It is possible to revitalize the old factory premises and build a superior conference hotel. Maistra in Rovinj has undoubtedly left its mark. Taking into consideration the geographical location of Rovinj as one of the closest Mediterranean congress destinations for Central and Western Europe, the future of this industry is guaranteed. Missing is only a convention bureau, which would know how to step out of corporate governance of the destination and would be able to serve as attorney of the meetings industry. Otherwise, forecasts of mayor Sponza that Rovinj will be more exclusive than Dubrovnik, can be realized.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms1,342
The number of 4* and 5* hotels6
Destination population14,294
Banquet hall maximum capacity800
The largest hall in the city1,600 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,000
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event20 Mbps
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rovinj_croatia
Photo Credit: Rovinj Tourist Board

10. BOHINJ, SLOVENIA 4.06/5


The majority of congress guests will be sworn lovers of nature and its aesthetic value. Bohinj is a place that is created for sustainable conference programmes and for active incentive experiences. It is a place where without any hesitation you can drink water from the public water supply and from its clean streams. Even the basic network of thematic paths offers ideas for authentic congress programmes. In Slovenia, the beauty of Bohinj can only be matched by its neighbours across the peaks in the Soča Valley, or in Kranjska Gora.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms150
The number of 4* and 5* hotels4
Destination population5,227
Banquet hall maximum capacity112
The largest hall in the city220 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity130
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event56 Mbps
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Photo Credit: Slovenian Convention Bureau

You can find every Meeting Destination with the help of our SEARCH ENGINE. It is tailored to the needs of meeting planners and their thought processes. Find the destinations at the following link: https://kongres-magazine.eu/search-destinations/.

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